Answer given by Mr Kallas on behalf of the Commission
1. All ships on international voyages are subject to the provisions of the international SOLAS (Safety Of Life at Sea) Convention which in Chapter V, Regulation 33 — Distress situations: obligations and procedures — only makes reference to persons in distress. Other international instruments, such as the International Maritime Organisation's Guidelines on the treatment of persons rescued at sea (Resolution MSC.167(78)) again refer only to persons. All Member States subscribe to these safety rules. In terms of domestic voyages, the laws of the flag state under which the ship is registered apply. The flag state may not necessarily be an EU Member State.
The Commission is not aware of any legal maritime obligations to rescue pets. Assistance would depend on the goodwill and professional judgment of the ship's master provided this did not endanger the lives of the crew, or, if nearer to shore, of the coastal state's search and rescue services.
2. The arrangements for the carriage of pets onboard ship is normally a private contractual arrangement between passenger and shipping company, rather than a matter for statutory law. The Commission regrets what has happened in this instance, but considers it exceptional.
OJ C 243 E, 20/08/2011